A life-threatening category 4 hits the islands early in the typhoon season, Beryl



CNN

Hurricane Beryl re-strengthened to a Category 4 on Monday morning as it roared through the Windward Islands, putting many island communities at risk of life-threatening storm surge, violent winds and flash flooding.

Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago were some of the areas that felt Beryl’s wrath early on Monday. St. Vincent, the Grenadines and Grenada are at risk of being hit by the storm’s center. A true landfall — an eye crossing the coast — may not occur, but even then, Beryl could unleash a devastating blow to nearby islands.

Beryl was the strongest storm to hit the Windward Islands since Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Beryl’s arrival marks an exceptionally early — and devastating — start to the Atlantic hurricane season. On Sunday it became the first Type 4 recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and the only Type 4 in June. The Bath tub-warm sea water Berylline’s alarming reinforcements are a clear indicator that this hurricane season will be far from normal due to global warming due to fossil fuel pollution.

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The storm weakened briefly to Category 3 status early Monday during an eyewall replacement cycle, a process in which strong hurricanes expel an eyewall — the ring of extremely intense air around the hurricane’s calm eye — as a larger one forms. The cyclone weakens during this process, but eventually emerges as a more powerful storm.

Islanders scrambled to complete final emergency preparations Sunday night as the tropical storm approached.. Local officials are warning of potential catastrophic impacts, including damage to homes, widespread power outages and threats to the safety of residents.

“I want everyone in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to take this matter very seriously,” said Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. “Some people hope for the best, and we all have to, but we all have to prepare for the worst.”

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Winds gusted between 40 and 45 mph at Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados on Monday morning.

• Beryl is a dangerous cyclone: The storm is about 70 miles east of Grenada, with sustained winds of 130 mph and moving west at 20 mph. Beryl’s hurricane-force winds extend up to 35 miles from the center, while tropical-storm-force winds extend about 125 miles.

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Workers placed sandbags at the back door of a shop in Bridgetown, Barbados on Sunday ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Beryl.

Life-threatening storms and floods: National Hurricane Center warned A “life-threatening storm surge could raise water levels 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels” near the Beryl landslide site. High tides can create life-threatening surf and rip currents that threaten small vessels and fishermen. Flash flooding is also a concern in the Windward Islands and parts of Barbados, where 3 to 6 inches of rain are expected through Monday — and up to 10 inches could fall in a few places, particularly the Grenadines and Grenada. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Motley has warned citizens to “be very vigilant”.

• Cyclone Warnings: Saint Lucia, Martinique and Trinidad. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque west to the border with Haiti, and for the southern coast of Haiti from the border with the Dominican Republic to Anse-d’Hainault.

Hundreds were evacuated: More than 400 people were staying in hurricane shelters across Barbados Sunday night, the country’s chief shelter warden, Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, told CNN affiliate CBC News. “I’m glad people are using shelters, if they’re not comfortable in their homes, it’s better to go to a shelter,” she said.

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State of Emergency in Grenada: Grenadian Governor General Cecile La Grenade has declared a state of emergency, which will be in effect from Sunday night until Tuesday morning. All businesses should be closed except for the police force, hospitals, prisons, waste disposal and ports.

Airports closed: Airports in Barbados, Grenada and St Lucia were closed on Sunday night as Beryl approached. Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport is expected to reopen Tuesday morning, a spokeswoman said. Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport and St. Lucia’s Hevanora International and George Charles Airports have also suspended operations.

World Cup cricket fans are stuck: Barbados is still playing host to cricket fans from around the world who have visited the island for the T20 World Cup, some of whom won’t be able to leave before Peril arrives. “Our visitors are with us,” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Motley said. “Some of them didn’t leave until Monday and Tuesday, and some of them have never experienced a hurricane or storm before.” She asked residents to offer support to visitors if possible.

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A boarded-up building is seen in Bridgetown, Barbados on Saturday.

Beryl is off to a troubling start to a hurricane season that forecasters warn will be high-speed — and Beryl’s record-shattering activity could be a sign of what’s to come.

The season has already gotten off to a busy start with a second storm — Tropical Storm Chris — approaching Tuxpan, Mexico, off the Gulf Coast early Monday.

Beryl was the first major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean in 58 years – defined as a Category 3 or higher. According to National Hurricane Center Director Mike Brennan, the storm’s rapid intensity is unusual for this early in the hurricane season. Tropical systems in the mid-Atlantic east of the Lesser Antilles in June are rare, particularly strong ones, and only a few tropical systems have done so. According to NOAA records.

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Storm didn’t start this season. It is now the third largest hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. The first was Hurricane Alma on June 8, 1966, followed by Hurricane Audrey, which reached major hurricane status on June 27, 1957.

Beryl also holds the record for the most easterly hurricane formed in the tropical Atlantic in June, breaking the previous record set in 1933.

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The central and eastern Atlantic traditionally become more active in August as ocean temperatures warm and have time for fuel-growing systems.

This year, however, the Atlantic basin saw higher than normal water temperatures and a lack of wind due to the transition from El Niño to La Niña, both of which fuel tropical growth.

“Beryl found an environment with very warm ocean water at this time of year,” Brennan said.

Early summer systems in this part of the Atlantic are a sign of an upcoming high-speed hurricane season. Research from Phil Klotzbach is a hurricane expert and research scientist at Colorado State University. In general, ocean temperatures in June and July are not warm enough to allow tropical systems to thrive.

National Weather Service Forecasters predicted Between 17 and 25 storms have been named this season, with 13 becoming hurricanes.

“That’s above average,” Brennan noted.

CNN’s Monica Garrett, Gene Norman, Michael Rios, Marlon Sordo, Sandy Sidhu, Melissa Alonso, Isaac Yee, Eric Jerkel, Mary Gilbert and Brandon Miller contributed to this report.

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